SBA Names Minnesota Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Release Date: 
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Release Number: 
Advisory Number: 
Sherree Stratton (612) 370-2325

Mankato, Minn. – Joshua Vanderberg, Owner and Operator of Vanderberg Clean, based in Mankato, has been named the Minnesota Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The Young Entrepreneur of the Year is selected annually based on success as measured by sales and profits, increased employment opportunities created by the business, development and/or utilization of innovative or creative business methods, and demonstrated entrepreneurial potential necessary for long-term business success and economic growth.  If this wasn’t enough, all of these accomplishments are done before the Young Entrepreneur reaches the age of thirty (30).  Michael Nolan, Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Director at Minnesota State University, Mankato, nominated Vanderberg for this award.

From his pre-teen years through high school, Vanderberg worked for his grandparents’ Mankato company, Sharon’s Cleaning Service.  During those years, he inherited both a solid work ethic (in high school his pay went toward family expenses) as well as an appreciation for what constitutes quality service.

His grandparents’ business ended in 2001.  Eight years later, utilizing his experience and a unique idea toward running a cleaning service, he created Vanderberg Cleaning Service, LLC, a cleaning firm with services ranging from janitorial carpet cleaning to disaster restoration.  He chose this line of work because of his experience with the family business and through working with the Service Master commercial cleaning franchise in the Mankato area.  As Vanderberg puts it, “If you can dream it, we can do it.”

“The goal is to be a comprehensive service," he adds.  “If one of our clients has a light that’s not working, we want them to just call us.  We want to be the one call that a building owner needs.”

In 2010, his wife Becca joined the firm, what at that point was 12 employees strong.

Marketing primarily by word of mouth, with some magazine ads and social media, energized the business.  In 2013 it contracted with 52 janitorial service accounts, compared with 32 at year’s end 2012.  Clients include churches, manufacturers, medical clinics and auto dealers in a coverage area consisting of Mankato, New Ulm, Le Sueur and Waseca.  Additionally, work has increased in the calls that come in for one-time building maintenance needs, from carpet cleaning to floor stripping and waxing. 

These al la carte jobs, some of which lend themselves to sub-contracting, fall into Vanderberg’s goal of being the one and only call that clients need to make.

In 2013 the business strengthened and restructured its management system to better handle the rapid growth in clients.  The Vanderbergs are now seeking two full-time general managers which will give Vanderberg a needed step away from the demands of micro-managing.

“Someone else is going to take care of the day-to-day, and I’m going to start visualizing our next part of the plan,” Vanderberg says.  “It’s scary because you’re moving from having control to giving it to somebody else because things are going so well.”

The business has expanded from 12 employees in 2010 to 37 today.  Its high point of employment stood at 45, but the shift to 37 is the result of creating more full-time jobs.  The company currently employs 11 full-time and 26 part-time employees.  “We scaled back the limited hours and put on more full-time employees,” Vanderberg says.

With a growing list of clients, a growing workforce and a plan to extend the business into a $10 million enterprise covering southern Minnesota, Vanderberg in just a few years has served as a model for young entrepreneurs – establishing an impressive bottom line as well as knowing every aspect of the business, beginning with how the broom hits the floor.

I’ve really gotten to that point where now we can do what we want to do.” Vanderberg says.  “We’re not a new business anymore, and it’s really cool where it’s at right now and where it’s headed.”

Vanderberg will be honored at the Minnesota Small Business Week Awards program on May 6, 2014, at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest.

For more information:

Joshua Vanderberg
Vanderberg Clean
515 North Riverfront Drive, Suite 130
Mankato, MN 56001